ReadyBoost on Vista
Recently I purchased an ultrafast Transcend 4 GB CF card from a MediaWorld for the lowly cost of 30 Euros (20 GBP / 45 USD) for use as a ReadyBoost drive with Vista – a replacement for my 2GB USB Drive – intended to give Vista a little xmas loving.
After plugging in the drive to the built-in USB multicard reader Vista refused to accept that the drive would support ReadyBoost. A problem I’ve experienced before with a 2GB SD card which initially ReadyBoost accepted as a cache drive – then later (after removal and testing in a digital camera) decided the drive didn’t come up to scratch. But this was a fast external memory drive for use with high-speed cameras – so I knew the drive was good.
I had a little time to kill this time – so decided to dig a little deeper into the problem.
"The device will not be used for a ReadyBoost cache because it does not exhibit uniform performance across the device. Size of fast region: 80 MB."
Not too helpful….
Now the drive that worked with ReadyBoost previously wasn’t being accepted any more. Assuming the drive wasn’t damaged in any way – something must have changed for Vista to think that the drive wasn’t good enough.
Digging a little deeper I decided to change the policy for the hardware interface attached to the card – changing it from “Optimize for quick removal” to “Optimize for performance”. You can find these properties by Opening Explorer -> Right clicking on the drive you want to optimise -> Properties -> Hardware. You’ll need to select and double click the actual hardware drive (use the drive type to guide you – ie CF, SD, xD, etc) to open the properties of the device. First you’ll need to click on the UAC enabled Change settings button on the General tab to elevate into Admin, then select the Policies tab (depicted).
Now generally you should only do this for Hard Drives if your machine is connected to a UPS – otherwise you’ll run the risk of data corruption – but ReadyBoost includes a number of features that protect against cache corruption. Enabling “Optimize for Performance” should be pretty safe – in a worst case scenario – the cache will fail and Vista will fall back to the standard HD.
You’ll need to reboot after making the change to the device properties. After rebooting the ReadyBoost property page for the drive greeted me with the option of enabling ReadyBoost on the device.
Now some external memory manufacturers do use slower components in the assembly of their cards – so it might not work for you – but it’s worth a shot if you want to improve the performance of your machine and you happen across a flashdrive in the sales.
You can find a good introduction into how to setup your system for use with ReadyBoost at Tom Archer’s old msdn blog here – unfortunately the images are no longer available. His new blog can be found here.
From what I’ve read SP1 for Windows Vista includes many fixes and enhancements to the ReadyBoost feature on Vista. I’ve not managed to get it installed here yet – there’s a few problems with it’s x64 support…